Dr. Larry Nickel
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Larry Nickel (born March 12, 1952) is a Canadian composer, conductor, music publisher and singer who devotes much of his focus to choral music. He is an associate composer of the Canadian Music Centre and has composed for a wide spectrum of genres; electronic and computer music, string quartet, woodwind and brass quintet, Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Wind Ensemble and choral ensembles, including both secular and ecclesiastical music. Primarily, he has written and arranged hundreds of compositions for choirs. Nickel also works as a choral clinician, occasional university professor, music minister, guest conductor and music festival adjudicator. Nickel sang professionally with the Vancouver Chamber Choir for six years, and currently directs the Jubilate Vocal Ensemble. In 2010 Nickel became the owner and co-editor (with Diane Loomer) of Cypress Choral Music Publishing. Nickel’s music is published by Oxford University Press, G. Schirmer, Shawnee Press, Pavane Publishing, Morton Music, Cypress Choral Music, Classica and Canadian International Music. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – CBC Radio – has featured his music many times.
Born to parents who became missionaries when he was eleven years old, Nickel studied music in Kodaikanal India under the International Baccalaureate Program. He was given a chance to direct his high school chamber choir when he was 17. Upon returning to Canada, he formed a coffeehouse band with friends called the “Sound of Light”, which performed regularly in the Vancouver area for four years, made two LP recordings, and worked in recording studios as back-up singers for Dolores Claman (“Hockey Night in Canada” composer). He studied at Columbia Bible College, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Lethbridge. His Master of Music degree was completed at the University of Western Washington in 1983.
Nickel worked as a high school performing arts teacher for 25 years at the Mennonite Educational Institute. During that time he directed over 50 stage productions. In 1993 he won the International Association for Jazz Education award for “outstanding service to jazzeducation”. His senior choir was selected two years in a row, 2001 and 2002, by Varsity Vocals’ international search for the Best of High School Choirs.
In 1989, Nickel almost died of viral encephalitis. Following a long convalescence, he says, “During that time of healing I committed myself to writing music that speaks to the deep questions of our existence.” Christian convictions permeate much of his writing.
Nickel and director Tony Funk founded the West Coast Mennonite Chamber Choir in 1990. The choir recorded thirteen CDs, including over one hundred of Nickel’s compositions, with proceeds from CD sales donated to Communitas Supportive Care Services, a charitable organization that works with mentally challenged people.
In 2003, Nickel began a Doctorate (DMA) in Composition, which he obtained in 2007. He studied with Stephen Chatman, Dorothy Chang and Keith Hamel. His thesis involved writing a Requiem in twelve languages. “Requiem for Peace” was premiered at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts in December 2005 under the direction Bruce Pullan. In 2010 Bruce Pullan presented “Requiem for Peace” at the Orpheum theatre with the VSO and the Vancouver Bach Choir. In 2011 Nickel reset “Requiem for Peace” for chamber size forces and this version was premiered by the Vancouver Chamber Choir that November. Since then, Requiem for Peace has had many performances; Örebro, Västerås, Toronto, Halifax, Guelph, Magdeburg, Speinshart, Regensburg, Nördlingen, Bayreuth, etc.
Nickel has received commissions from groups such as the Vancouver Cantata Singers, Pro Coro Canada, Vancouver Chamber Choir, Vancouver Bach Choir, Elektra, Chor Leoni, Welsh Men’s Choir, Salt Lake Vocal Artists, the Örebro Chamber Choir, Winnipeg Children’s Choir, Pacific Mennonite Children’s Choir, PODIUM honor choir, Erato Ensemble, Canadian Tenors, Linden Singers, Faith and Life Men’s Chorus, etc. His work has also been performed by Pinchas Zukerman, Ben Heppner, the NACO Woodwind Quintet, the Pacific Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.
Larry and his wife, Edna, live in Vancouver, close to their children and grandchildren.
composer, choir director, publisher